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facing charges Man arrested after failing to wear a face mask in shop was 'not trying to be political'

The father-of-three said he has not yet decided on how he is going to plead but emphasised he felt he was exempt from the rules requiring him to wear a mask on religious grounds.

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Christopher tells our man Patrick that he didn’t do anything wrong

Christopher tells our man Patrick that he didn’t do anything wrong

Christopher tells our man Patrick that he didn’t do anything wrong

A FATHER-of-three, arrested after failing to wear a mask in a supermarket and then refusing to give his name to gardaí, has said he wasn’t trying to make a political point and just wanted to finish his shopping in peace.

The 47-year-old who identifies himself as Christopher Michael, but who was charged under the name Christopher Cussen, subsequently spent a night in a Garda cell before being brought before Wexford District Court.

There, he was charged with failing to comply with emergency regulations made under the Health Act and failure to provide his name and address to gardaí.

He was later remanded on bail to appear before the court again on April 5.

Speaking with the Sunday World this week, the father-of-three said he has not yet decided on how he is going to plead but emphasised he felt he was exempt from the rules requiring him to wear a mask on religious grounds.

“Since March 15 last year I have always shopped in Pettitt’s and always before that. I have shopped there all my life because it’s the kind of place where…the people know you.

“I remember one week where I had run the shopping through and when I patted my leg I realised I had left my wallet behind and the lady on the till said: ‘sure we know you, we’ll get you next week.’

“It’s just old-school so that’s why I shop there.

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 (Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

“So I’ve shopped there every week since this thing began and I was asked maybe once in that time by the security staff whether I had a mask with me.

“And I told them no, that I had an exemption so I don’t require a mask.

“And they said that was fine so I’ve shopped there forever without a mask.

"But on this day, I was talking to a friend of mine in the shop when a store employee approached and asked if I had a mask.

"So I said the same as before that I didn’t have a mask as I was exempt…and I was told that if I didn’t have a mask I’d have to leave the store.

“I said I’m exempt…but she insisted I’d have to leave. So I said, look I’m nearly finished my shopping, I’ll finish it and I’ll leave.

“And she said that wasn’t OK and that she was going to call the guards.”

Christopher said a short time later he was approached by two gardaí in the shop.

“The gardaí came then and they asked me for my name and I told them I’m private…as I’m rightfully allowed to do...

“I didn’t do anything … I was just doing my shopping as far as I was concerned.

“So I told them I was private but they said I had to give my name and they quoted acts and legislation.

“But I’ve de-registered from the voting register because I don’t consent to be ruled by the political parties in this State.

“I’m not part of any group or organisation but I’ve de-registered because I don’t see what we have as a functioning democracy.

“I wasn’t making a stand here or a political statement here.

“But it was my comprehension that if you are asked if you have a mask and you tell them you are exempt then that should be the end of it.

“ And I have a witness to state that I said this who was standing next to me at the time.

“My understanding is they don’t have the right to ask you anything else once you’ve stated you are exempt."

At last Monday’s court hearing Garda Geoff Scally told the court that Christopher when arrested replied: "I'm a private man".

To the second charge he replied: "Ni seasann fuait".

When asked by Judge John Cheatle, the defendant declined the services of a solicitor.

He said: “I will present myself.”

The defendant said he was an Orthodox Christian who has deregistered from the Roman Catholic Church.

It was against his belief to cover up his face, he added.

Judge John Cheatle granted Mr Michael bail on condition that he comply with all Covid-19 regulations and wear a face mask while shopping.

The father of three responded that he was marking the bail paperwork under duress with his left hand as he was right-handed naturally.

He is due back before court on Monday, April 5.

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